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Series Preview 5/4-6: Cubs vs. Cardinals

The Cubs and Cards will play for the first time this year in the ‘Lou

MLB: Chicago White Sox at St. Louis Cardinals Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

A rivalry will continue at Busch Stadium this weekend, as the 16-12 Cubs come to town for a three-game meeting with the 17-12 Cardinals. The series will begin on Friday evening.

Friday’s series opener will feature a mound matchup of Miles Mikolas and Jose Quintana. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM Central time. Mikolas has been durable in his last three outings, logging seven frames in each. Along with durability, Mikolas has been effective: he has allowed a total of four runs in his last three starts. All five of Mikolas’ starts this year have come against teams in the NL Central - two starts against the Reds, two against the Brewers, and one against the Pirates. Ben Zobrist is the only current Cub to have faced Mikolas. In four at-bats, Zobrist has a base hit and a run batted in.

Quintana shut the Brewers out on two hits across seven frames in his most recent start on April 29. It was the second start that Quintana has held Milwaukee scoreless thus far in the season, as he did so earlier in April in a six-inning outing. Outside of his outings against the Brewers, however, Quintana has experienced some rough sailing. In three other starts totaling 13 23 innings, Quintana has surrendered 17 earned runs - equating to an 11.20 ERA in those games. Facing Quintana last year after he joined the Cubs via trade, Yadier Molina is 4-for-12 with a pair of doubles off the lefty.

The middle game of the series on Saturday is set to begin around 1:15 PM and will feature Luke Weaver and Tyler Chatwood. After starting the year with three starts of two earned runs or fewer, Weaver has allowed four or more runs in his most recent three - including a four-inning start in Chicago where he allowed six runs. Opposing batters are hitting at a .248 clip against Weaver, but his walk rate may be the real issue. Through 31 13 innings of work this year, Weaver has issued 14 bases on balls. In 60 13 innings last season, Weaver walked just 17 batters. The road does not project to get much better on Saturday; Weaver has had plenty of struggles facing the Cubs in the past. Infielders Javier Baez and Kris Bryant have both went yard against Weaver.

Chatwood will be making his sixth start for the Cubs and will look to build upon a pair of previous starts that were very solid. Chatwood pitched in Cleveland and held the Indians to one run in six frames on April 24 and shut the Brewers out over seven innings on April 29. Although he does own a respectable 2.83 ERA in 28 23 innings this season, Chatwood’s walks have been an issue. He has walked 22 batters so far; nonetheless, Chatwood has been bailed out pretty frequently, based on his 81.3 left on-base percentage. Matt Carpenter has seen Chatwood the best in the past, as the St. Louis infielder has three hits in six at-bats, including a double.

Sunday’s series finale will be a night game, set to start around 7:05 PM. Cubs ace Jon Lester will take the mound. The 34-year-old left-hander has a 4.55 FIP in five starts for the North Siders this year. You may recall that Lester dazzled against the Cardinals in their last meeting, as he pitched six innings of two-hit ball with seven punchouts. Lester’s opponents are batting .224 against him with 27 strikeouts. Molina has a dozen hits in 37 career at-bats against Lester, who has fanned Carpenter 11 times in 39 plate appearances.

The Cardinals have not confirmed who will toe the rubber for them in Sunday’s contest. Michael Wacha’s spot is due up in the rotation, but Adam Wainwright is eligible to come off the disabled list. Austin Gomber is on the active roster and needs some work, but it seems unlikely the team would throw him in a nationally-televised start against the Cubs.

Stay tuned for that announcement!